Vaping: Safer than cigarettes, but risky for kids

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E-cigarettes are less hazardous than traditional cigarettes, according to a major new report. And they may help hooked adult smokers quit lighting up.

But don’t give them a thumbs up just yet. While e-cigarettes containing nicotine may be less harmful than traditional smokes, the congressionally mandated report cautioned that they can still be a gateway to tobacco addiction. The report found substantial evidence that teens who use them are more likely to start smoking.

Millions of Americans currently use e-cigarettes, but young people use them at higher rates than older adults.

Good news, bad news

The report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine is one of the most comprehensive studies ever on the health effects of e-cigarettes. It drew on more than 800 studies examining the possible risks and benefits of e-cigarettes. And its findings were decidedly mixed.

On the one hand, it found that e-cigarettes have fewer toxins than traditional ones. As a result, completely switching from standard cigarettes to e-cigarettes may be good for your health.

On the other hand, the report stopped short of calling e-cigarettes harmless. A key reason: E-cigarettes are still so new that their long-term safety isn’t known. The report also found that the nicotine intake from e-cigarettes varies a lot. But it can be similar to that of regular cigarettes.

To learn more, read the full report.

Major health organizations—including the American Heart Association (AHA) and the American Lung Association (ALA)—welcomed the report. And both the AHA and ALA underscored the danger e-cigarettes pose as a stepping stone to smoking for young people. Both also urged the U. S. Food and Drug Administration to put stronger regulations on e-cigarettes.

Not sure how to talk to your kids about smoking? Here’s some advice.

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